A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

There is anger that an enemy may be compromising the peace loving Forest folk.


Everyone in the forest knew that Fluffybunce took a very serious view of life. He always had, ever since he’d been a stray poodle, lost from the world of men and embraced by the very different world of the forest.

And it was because of that serious view that he had at first been accepted and then had risen through the ranks of Forest society until he was looked upon as the arbiter of all that was good and decent and honest and the grim accuser of everything that wasn’t, which in all honesty wasn’t very much.

He had an office in a disused warren. The particular family of long-eared citizens of a type that mankind called rabbits had departed on a world tour soon after his arrival and had rented their warren to him for a minimal sum, and he had enlarged its entrances, excavated out a study using his bare paws and erected a sign telling the world that he was there as an Arbiter.

And he soon became as respected as anyone else, which was just about everybody.

So it was that Fluffybunce was the authority sought out by Longshanks’ team of friends and allies, who were dismayed that the pathologist was to be incarcerated in the Forest Jail, a sombre and wretched establishment high up a Scotch Pine and waving in every breeze, scaring him rigid and liable to do just that for the remainder of his days. And then, it seemed, upon his death, his mortal body would be opened up by a student pathologist as part of his training before Longshanks’ ragged and mutilated remains were disposed of in unconcentrated ground.

Nobody liked the idea of ending up unconcentrated. It was, in the minds of most Forest folk, much better if their mortal remains were concentrated, usually in the form of vitamin supplements manufactured to sustain the weak, the feeble, the young and the aged, all of whom were perceived to be in need of supplements. Such concentration was considered almost holy because it conveyed any goodness left in their redundant bones into the future, where it would do more good than if it was merely buried in a ditch somewhere.

Fluffybunce looked long and hard at Elflight who had called for advice.

“So you say that Toowitty did that?” he mumbled. A sign of good arbitrating has always been a thoughtful and barely comprehensible mumble.

“For life, and for just doing his job,” complained Elflight. “I asked him to do the pathologist thing because I was certain that the farmer was an ex-farmer and devoid of all vital signs. I mean, he was battered and bruised and I was sure he wasn’t breathing. It was my duty, for it seemed that the good fellow had been attacked savagely and that the heinous crime of murder had entered the forest, and that needed weeding out before it got a foothold, so to speak.”

Fluffybunce wagged his tale and nodded his head. This, thought Elflight, was a good sign, so he continued, “even Prickly thought he was dead, and Prickly knows a thing or two.”

Fluffybunce wagged his tail again.

“There have been dark rumours,” he said in the quietest possible voice if it was going to be at all audible, “there have been foul suggestions that the old Judge has fallen under the spell of an outsider.”

He waited for the look of dismay to spread across the detective’s face, and sure enough it did.

“You mean…?” asked that detective, and Fluffybunce nodded. Then he both wagged his tail and nodded his head again and allowed several seconds of silence for the reality of what he described as a rumour to sink in.

“What I mean,” hummed the arbiter at last, “what I most certainly mean is the dire possibility that the judge has been got at. That his famed impartiality has been compromised. And his even more famed wisdom attacked. What I mean,” and here he spat quite deliberately and wolfishly, “is that an outsider is getting at the most honourable and certainly the wisest member of our community. What I really do mean is that everything that Toowitty does and says in his position of chief of the judiciary is likely to be tainted by the whim of an outsider!”

“But what of our gentility?” whispered Elflight, “what of the way we treat each other? What of our absolute refusal to segregate the various groups that make up our community? What about the way we will not, at any cost, see racial or ethnic differences as anything but loveable and natural? What about those things?”

“I did say rumour...” mumbled Fluffybunce.

“But I know you, sir,” said Elflight, his voice sounding as agitated as it often did when he was apprehending a youngster for dropping litter, “I know you and your deep thoughtfulness and irreproachable intelligence! You would not make the suggestion of a rumour if you did not believe it!”

The Arbiter nodded. “I believe it to be true,” he sighed, his mumble fading for a moment, “I believe that our Judge has been seduced by an outsider and that his famous wisdom has been meddled with, In short, I believe we are at this moment of time witnessing the most dangerous phase in the existence of our Forest. Our pathologist is no longer able to do his job. He is imprisoned and when he is needed he will not be there! And I have the notion like a septic sore in my muzzle, that he will be needed pretty soon.

“In short, I fear that I can detect the malign influence of mankind, and possibly the end of the Forest Folk!”

© Peter Rogerson, 10.10.18

© 2018 Peter Rogerson

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Added on October 10, 2018
Last Updated on October 10, 2018
Tags: Arbiter, poodle, rumour, malign influence, pathologist


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..